Makeup splurges for better or worse

What constitutes a makeup splurge? Is it money? Is it the lack of resistance? Is it weakness? I say it all depends on the situation. A splurge can be something that’s $5 or something that’s $100. It’s all what you believe you want rather than just need. Today I’m featuring 7 products that I feel I splurged on. Some are worth every cent, some are regrets. Please check out my choices to see if you agree.  —  Marcia

NATASHA DENONA EYESHADOW PALETTE 10 ($95)

Natasha Denona Eyeshadow Palette 10

This is my most expensive splurge and one I’m on the fence about. $95 is a lot to spend on a palette but it does have 10 gorgeous shades that are outside of my comfort zone to some degree. The shades are #56p Pearl (champagne toned shimmer), #06p Anthrazit (charcoal black with a subtle silver shimmer), #47p Dark Sepia (dark chocolate brown with a slight gold shimmer), #02m Blue Space (rich royal blue with a shimmer finish), #27m Slate (vivid purple shimmer), #19m Deep Teal (intense teal shimmer), #25m Aura (cream white with a gold iridescent finish), #13m Raw Gold (deep gold with a bronze undertone), #87m Light Coral (peach shadow with a subtle gold shimmer), #07m Graphite (dark grey with silver shimmer).

Natasha Denona Eyeshadow Palette 10

As you can see these are all shimmer shades but the extent of the shimmer is unique to each shade. It’s really not the most practical palette because of all the shimmer. The problem for me isn’t the cost though but the quality of the shades isn’t uniform. Some apply easily while others want to fight with me.

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE?  Depends, it got me over my Natasha Denona craving and I didn’t buy the more expensive palettes. I like this but I can’t say I love it. (Swatches from Sephora, mine don’t look like this though)

PRETTY VULGAR NIGHTINGALE EYESHADOW PALETTE ($35)

After falling in love with Pretty Vulgar Early Bird Eyeshadow palette I was anxious for more. But I’m a pretty staid individual colorwise so I went with the tried and true. Considering I have 357962 nude and brown palettes did I need this? That’s why it’s a splurge, I don’t need it.

Pretty Vulgar Nightingale Eyeshadow Palette

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? I’m the wishy washy queen right now because I haven’t decided. I’ve had it for a few weeks and haven’t touched it. Some of the Early Bird shadows are disappointing and I’m worried that I’ll find that here too. What to do?

Pretty Vulgar Nightingale Eyeshadow Palette

DIOR METALIZER – METAL CREME SHADOW ($25)

Once I saw the Dior Metalizers reviewed I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Metallics are hot for fall and I’ve always loved metallics in accessories and cosmetics. I chose Bronze Tension – mistake! It’s too dark and doesn’t blend well on me.

Dior Metalizer Cream Shadow in Bronze Tension

I want to like this so badly that I can taste it. I love to start with a cream shadow and use it as a base or to highlight powders. But I picked the wrong shade. I don’t see any metallic on my eyes with this very dark shade. (inject crying emoji here)

Dior Metalizer Cream Shadow in Bronze Tension

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? Obviously not which saddens me.

STILA HUGE EXTREME LASH MASCARA ($23)

There’s a story behind buying this mascara. I received a sample size in one of my subscriptions and put it aside for a while. When cleaning to move I find it and tried it. I totally fell in love with it. Wearing Stila Huge was like being granted false eyelashes. You know I couldn’t wait to buy this in spite of having umpteen unopened mascaras.

Stila Huge Extreme Mascara

Stila Huge Extreme Mascara

Well … the tube I bought is a dud. Some days my lashes look totally amazing, other days they are a mushy mess. I’ve determined that the problem is that the opening for the wand is too large which makes too much mascara coming out. There’s none of that satisfying sound you hear when opening a tube. Even cleaning it off doesn’t guarantee that I’ll love my lashes that day.

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? With mascara you just never know what you’re going to get. One tube can make angels sing, the next tube can make them cry. This makes my lashes cry 50% of the time.

ARTIS PALM BRUSH ($65)

The Artis Palm Brush is absolutely incredible. My words can not describe how much I love this brush and the Artis Oval 10 brush. Yes expensive, yes worth every cent to me. Here’s a description that explains the Palm Brush: “A brush with a generously sized, rounded oval of fibers to provide coverage to a larger areas of the face and body. It features more than 250,000 fibers. Artis brushes are made exclusively with CosmeFibre, a revolutionary engineered fiber made for applying cosmetic and makeup products.”

Artis Palm Brush

I use this and the Oval 10 for liquid foundation since I can’t believe the softness of the brushes and the airbrushed application.

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? Without a doubt. Even though I have the Oval 10 which is the same except that the Palm brush doesn’t have a handle, I wanted this and caved. Happy happy.

TARTE SHAPE TAPE aka DOUBLE DUTY BEAUTY SHAPE TAPE CONTOUR CONCEALER ($25)

So I found myself in Ulta without a plan to buy anything and I came across the infamous Tarte Shape Tape. When Shape Tape first came out you couldn’t find it anywhere not even Tarte’s website. That made the hunt more real. The last thing I needed was another concealer.

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Fair Beige

This very fat tube and very fat wand are quite interesting. I’ve always liked the concealers that Tarte makes and this one intrigued me. There are 14 shades to choose from and several that are light enough for me. After much deliberation I chose Fair Beige which I now see is for fair skin with pink undertones. The color choice was right.

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Fair Beige

Ulta explains how to use this as a contour and as a concealer. I mainly use it under my eyes. I rarely start a day with concealer but I do add it if I’m going somewhere later in the day or evening. “Powered by Amazonian clay and conditioning mango seed and shea butters, the nutrient-rich concealer helps promote skin elasticity and illumination with each crease-free application.”

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? At first I didn’t think so but it’s really grown on me. I have a ton of concealers and wondered why I bought another, but I’m glad I did. It doesn’t crease under my eyes and does a good job of covering everything up.

KJAER WEIS CREAM BLUSH – BLOSSOMING ($56)

Now this was a true splurge. I actually had no intention of buying this and then suddenly it was in my cart and on my CC. Hmm. I did no research into this other than knowing that Kjaer Weis was a luxury brand and that the reviews were amazing. But it’s a cream blush and I’m a nut for cream blush.

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush

The first thing to know is that this is the heaviest cosmetic I own. It could be used as a weapon. The metal compact is beautiful on my vanity and slides open to display the creamiest of all cream blushes.

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Blossoming

Blossoming is a beautiful light peachy pink shade that is subtle yet shows up perfectly on my fair skin. I’m totally in love with this color.

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Blossoming

Kjaer Weiss blush is – Certified organic – Formulated with Rose Rubiginosa Seed Oil to fight signs of aging – Free from gluten, petroleum, parabens, artificial coloring and fragrance. This comes in 5 shades that all look totally amazing to me. Lovely is on my list for the next time I “need” to splurge.

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Blossoming

This isn’t a cream to powder but it’s not sticky. I apply a light amount of setting powder to my cheeks first and then use my finger to blend the cream on. It melts onto my finger and applies like buttah! It’s infused with Castor Seed and Jojoba Oils to help strengthen and nourish the skin and has a Beeswax base that’s well-suited to all complexions.

WAS THIS A GOOD SPLURGE? Yes yes and yes again. I love it and when I can afford it I’ll purchase another.

Makeup Splurges

Affiliate disclosure

What’s the verdict on my makeup splurges? Would you buy any of these yourself? Do you have any of these? I’d love for you to share.  —  Marcia

Don’t forget to see what my friends have splurged on.


Makeup Wars perks up your eyes

MAKEUP WARS is all about eyes today, expanding from the typical to the somewhat atypical. Ways to perk up your eye makeup can be as simple or bold as wearing a colorful mascara as well as changing up your eyeliner from your typical black or dark brown. I’ve chosen my favorite colorful eyeliners to share with you since a day without eyeliner for me is a day my eyes disappear.

STILA GOT INKED CUSHION EYE LINER is my new favorite eyeliner. Yes I do play favorites and right now the play is with these very cool cushion eye liners. This is a liquid eyeliner unlike any you’ve used. It comes in a pot with the liquid under a cushion top. Use your favorite brush (I prefer a very thin one) and press it onto the webbed sponge top and you’ve got your color. Stila compares it to using a calligraphy pen that you dip into the sponge. These don’t seem like they’ll spill. I first bought it in Smoky Quartz Ink and after using it twice I knew I needed another so along came Copper Ink. Both are within my comfort zone but on the edge of it. You can go thick or thin, you can draw cat eyes, you can do anything your heart desires and the color will last. It comes in 6 shades (Black Obsidian, Amethyst, Blue Sapphire, Garnet plus Smoky Quartz and Copper).

Stila Got Inked Cushion Eye Liners

Stila Got Inked Cushion Eye Liners

Smoky Quartz Ink is a pewter taupe that is metallic and will take on the colors of your eye makeup depending on the light. While there’s no glitter in it, it looks that way because of the high shine. When I wear this with a gold and khaki combination it seems to pick up that khaki undertone. Copper Ink isn’t quite as metallic but it’s far from flat. It’s stunning with a variety of browns but when it really looks unique is wearing it with eyeshadow in the navy family. Copper Ink is making me shop my stash for new looks.

Stila Got Inked Cushion Eye Liners - top Smoky Quartz In, bottom Copper Ink

Stila Got Inked Cushion Eye Liners – top Smoky Quartz In, bottom Copper Ink

I’m a huge fan of liquid eyeliners but they are not all created equal. The length and sturdiness of the brush are the keys for me finding the ones I love. While I don’t wear pencil eyeliners that often I’ve found that Pur Minerals (now Pur Cosmetics) has a combination that has the best of both worlds. DOUBLE EGO EYELINERS are liquid on one end and pencil on the other end. Use separately or combine for great looks.

Pur Minerals Double Ego liners

Pur Minerals Double Ego liners

Look at those colors! Milan (inky black), Tasmania (dark chocolate), Madagascar (black gold), Bora Bora (royal blue), Swiss Alps (cool pewter), Rio de Janeiro (deep plum), Bali (emerald green), and Queensland (aquatic teal). While I mostly wear Tasmania I’ve been known to wear Swiss Alps (pewter) and Rio de Janiero (plum) to shake it up a bit. These are amazing eyeliners.

Last but far from least on my list are the YOUNGBLOOD EYE-MAZING LIQUID EYELINER PENS. These are available in 5 shades that are beautiful and go beyond black. The brush is what makes these so wonderful. For me they glide on and last, rarely going astray. I’ve bought backups of Marron since it’s an amazing brown eyeliner. Gris (soft grey) and Verde (dark forest green) are unique to my eyeliner collection.

Eye-Mazing Liquid Liner Pens from http://www.ybskin.com/

Eye-Mazing Liquid Liner Pens from http://www.ybskin.com/

Youngblood Liquid Liner in Azul, Gris, Noir, Verde and Marron

Youngblood Liquid Liner in Azul, Gris, Noir, Verde and Marron

What are your favorite eyeliners? As you can tell I’m obsessed with liquid eyeliners and love having this variety on hand. — Marcia


Think Pink with Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush

Think pink

Think pink

The hardest thing about Stila’s Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush is picking a color you want to buy. Everything else is super easy since it’s a cinch to use and wear.

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

There are 5 shades available and the online swatches all looked beautiful so I took a stab in the dark and picked Water Lily since it looked fresh and vibrant.

Stila Water Lily Aqua Blush (beauty.com)

Stila Water Lily Aqua Blush (beauty.com)

This Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush is totally different than any blush product I own because it really is watery. The formula says it’s a water based gel but I find it more watery than gel-like. It’s packaged in a small jar with a mesh top. You need to shake it very well and then be careful with the amount of product you use.

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush mesh top

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush mesh top

It feels like nothing when you apply it yet you will feel a slight cooling effect. This is a sheer blush that you can build up but my advice is to start with a very small amount, dab it on your cheek where you typically use blush. Then do the other cheek. Now stand back and check your face. If it’s not enough then go back and build it up but not too much.

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

Water Lily is a warm pink shade (although beauty.com calls it a rose pink) that goes on sheer but lasts well throughout the day. I’d say I get about 6 – 8 hours wear before needing to refresh it. It’s a great blush if you have “Disappearing Blush Problem” aka DBP. People who are affected by DBP find their blush vanishes easily. But using this Stila Aqua Glow as a base and then following up with a powder is the answer to longer lasting blush. While this is not a medically proven problem, it really does happen to too many people. I’m working on a foundation to study this phenomenon (not).

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Lily

I’m not sure if I’ll buy another shade of this or not but I am attracted to the coolness of Water Blossom described as Pink Violet.

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush  in Water Blossom (beauty.com)

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Blossom (beauty.com)

What’s your vote? Should I think pink and buy this $26 Stila Water Blossom?? — Marcia

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Mica, Silica, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Sorbitan Isostearate, Propylene Carbonate, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, May Contain (+/-):, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 7791), Carmine (CI 75470)

The liquid eyeliner quest – part 1 starring L’Oreal, Stila, Milani and Lorac

I’m on a mission to find fabulous brown liquid eyeliners. It feels like an “impossible mission” at times. There are actually a lot available but at the time of writing this review I’ve yet to find one I’m crazy about. I can’t figure out why there are so many great black liquid eyeliners but brown isn’t around. My goal is to find a brown that’s truly brown – no black browns since those just look black on me. No red browns since the red isn’t attractive. For this mission I’ll be doing a series of reviews about my quest. I’ll surely stick in a brown pencil eyeliner every once in a while plus some black ones too.

To start with I searched my drawers and came up with 4. Some I’d bought and hadn’t opened, some were a little older.

L'Oreal Lineur Intense (loreal.com)

L’Oreal Lineur Intense (loreal.com)

L'Oreal Liner Intense in Earthen Rock Brown

L’Oreal Liner Intense in Earthen Rock Brown

1)      L’Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Liner in Earthen Rock Brown ($8.99) is a great eyeliner but it’s not brown-brown; it’s really a black brown. I bought this because everyone was recommending the Lancome Artliner and I wanted something I could get immediately and that was less expensive. I’m glad I waited before buying L’Oreal’s other liquid (Telescopic Precision) since the brown is going to be this dark too. If you don’t mind a very dark brown liquid eyeliner though, I do like this. It goes on smoothly, evenly and is long lasting. You just have to remember to shake it well before using.

Milani Eye Tech (milani.com)

Milani Eye Tech (milani.com)

Milani Eye Tech in brown

Milani Eye Tech in brown

2)      Milani Eye Tech Liquid Liner ($7.49)  is a mini eyeliner size wise. It’s only 3 ¼ inches long. This comes in either black or brown. It’s a gorgeous brown. I love love love the color since it shows up brown. I have two problems with it though. First is that the size makes it uncomfortable to use but I can live with that. The second problem is that it takes absolutely forever to dry. It feels wet for more than 5 minutes on me. I’m sitting there trying to keep my eyes wide open for so long. I’ll definitely keep on using it but only when I have extra time. Unfortunately this is the only liquid they make in brown.

Stila Waterproof All Day Liquid Liner (sephora.com)

Stila Waterproof All Day Liquid Liner (sephora.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in brown

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in brown

3)      Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner ($20) in Dark Brown – well you already know what I’m going to say. It’s dark brown all right but really dark brown. It barely shows any brown on me. I’m not crazy about the applicator. Mine is a little wobbly plus it doesn’t flow as smoothly as I wish. Therefore I can’t get the line as thin as I’d like. It makes me realize I like a very firm applicator point on liquids.

Lorac Front of the Line Pro liner (sephora.com)

Lorac Front of the Line Pro liner (sephora.com)

Lorac Front of the Line PRO in brown

Lorac Front of the Line PRO in brown

4)      Lorac Front of the Line PRO ($23) – I bought this on sale from Ulta for $11 when they had one of their beauty events. Lorac comes in black, charcoal and brown. I know I’m sounding like a whiny person so I’ll say some nice things about this liner. It’s truly brown. Yea for that. The packaging is shiny silver and aesthetically appealing. So what’s the problem? The brush isn’t stiff enough therefore it needs 2 or 3 passes which means I can’t keep the line thin enough. I always screw up and have a bump in the road.

eyeliner swatches: L'Oreal, Milani, stila, Lorac

eyeliner swatches: L’Oreal, Milani, stila, Lorac

5)      Milani Liquid Eye ($6.99) – oops! I was at CVS and had a reward coupon and I saw the words “Liquid Eye” and it was brown. Did I look carefully enough to see that it then said “Liquid-Like Eye Liner Pencil”? Did I look at the point and see a pencil point (off kilter at that)? No, I just used my reward and bought it. Now I will tell you that I like it and it’s worth the money. It’s a great brown shade. It goes on smoothly. It lasts very well once it sets. But it doesn’t help my “mission impossible.”

Milani Liquid Eye (milani.com)

Milani Liquid Eye (milani.com)

Milani Liquid Eye in brown

Milani Liquid Eye in brown

Part 1 doesn’t seem to have a clear winner but there are also no true losers either. Each has something good about it, each has something for me to complain about. I do think that L’Oreal Liner Intense has the edge though so I’d declare this the winner with a “but”. Have you tried any of these 5 liners? Do you have a suggestion for me in my quest? Stay tuned for this mission to continue. — Marcia

 

The $50 blogger challenge plus a bonus giveaway

I have to thank Coupons. com for offering this great post. A group of bloggers were given $50 e-gift cards to one of three beauty emporiums. Mine was Sephora. I was let loose on Sephora.com with $50 to spend!!! Whoopee! I got right to work making a list of things I wanted and of course it was long. The challenge from coupons.com was to create at least 2 looks using the $50. I labored over this and finally decided that I wanted to prove that Sephora.com can provide a bag full of goodies for that money. Sephora doesn’t carry drugstore items, they carry what is called prestige brands. We often feel like they are so expensive but look what I got with my e-certificate from coupons. com.

Coupons.com haul: Stila, Kat VonD

Coupons.com haul: Stila, Kat Von D

I bought two Stila travel palettes which are normally $16 each but are on sale at Sephora.com for $10 plus 3 Kat Von D Waterproof Eyeliner pencils $10 each). I also had a code (sephora.com shows current codes on their website) for a free YSL Shocking mascara. I’ve got everything I need for eyes, lips and cheeks with these.

The first of the two Stila palettes is Vibrant in Vancouver which is comprised of the following colors of eyeshadows: English Boy (satin light beige), Cypress (shimmery light brown), Granville (matte light chocolate), Seaplane (shimmery olive) and Coal Harbour (matte dark brown). The convertible lip and cheek cream in Tiger Lily is a shimmery rose-brown.

Stila Vibrant in Vancouver

Stila Vibrant in Vancouver

These are the typical neutral colors that I wear all the time. I picked this palette for a few reasons – 1) I’m loving olive greens at the moment, 2) I always feel good in browns and beiges and 3) I had a feeling that the convertible color would work well for me. This is a good palette for my everyday type looks plus when I start with a base like a Maybelline Tattoo I can change the looks even more.

The other palette I picked is Rockin’ in Rio which turned into a surprise favorite. I chose it to add variety but it turns out I really like this and it will stay in my rotation. The eye shadows are Copacabana (satin pale beige), Samba (satin medium beige), Bossa Nova (shimmery light greyish brown), Carnavale (shimmery greyish black) and Ipanema (shimmery midnight blue). The convertible color is called Freesia and it’s a great candy pink that I like on my lips as well as my cheeks.

Stila Rockin in Rio palette

Stila Rockin in Rio palette

The three pencils I bought are by Kat Von D and were highly recommended by a friend. They are the Waterproof Autograph Pencils which cost just $10 each – I bought 3  since I wanted to be able to change my look. The shades I have are Piaf (purplish gray with multicolor sparkle), Napolitano (bronze with gold sparkle) and Black Metal (black with silver sparkle). I guess I was in a sparkly mood. These aren’t full size pencils, they are half size which is great for someone with a collection my size and for trying out new colors.

Kat Von D Waterproof Autograph Pencils

Kat Von D Waterproof Autograph Pencils

Kat Von D Waterproof Autograph Pencils: Black Magic, Napolitano, Piaf

Kat Von D Waterproof Autograph Pencils: Black Magic, Napolitano, Piaf

While the challenge was for two looks I was able to create much more than that depending on the placement of the eyeshadow or the eyeliner I chose. Each eyeliner worked with two palettes plus I was able to dampen shadows in the palettes for eyeliners too. The bonus YSL mascara is not one that worked for me. I didn’t get shocking lashes, I felt that my lashes stuck together too much and I didn’t see anything other than some definition. But what a great way to know since it was a bonus code.

Now for some looks:

1) StilaVibrant in Vancouver with olive lid, shimmery light brown in the crease and shimmery light beige on browbone. Lined with Kat Von D Napolitano.

Stila Vibrant in Vancouver

Stila Vibrant in Vancouver

sephora stila vancouver1 62. Stila Rockin in Rio with light shimmery gray on lid, charcoal in the crease, pale beige on the browbone and Kat Von D Black Magic eyeliner.

Stila Rockin in Rio palette

Stila Rockin in Rio palette

3. Stila Rockin in Rio with the light gray on the lid, blue in the crease and pale beige above with Kat Von D Black Magic eyeliner. You can also see my cheeks with the Freesia convertible color.

Stila Rockin in Rio

Stila Rockin in Rio

4. Stila Rockin in Rio using Ipanema eyeshadow wet as an eyeliner – I wanted you to see how vibrant it can be.

Stila Rockin in Rio

Stila Rockin in Rio

Now for the giveaway news…. this giveaway is open for one week only and will close on June 21, 2013. It is open for US only. The giveaway and the products that we each received are from Coupons. com (there was no other compensation for this post). There are a lot of chances to win so the more you follow on Rafflecopter’s widget, the more likely it is for you to be the big winner.

I hope you’ll click on our links to see how everyone spent their $50. We have all chosen totally different routes so you’ve got some fun in store. Let me know in the comments if you have any of these Stila Travel palettes and if there are others I should be looking for. — Marcia

summer giveaway coupons dot com

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Stila grabs my heart again – Love at First Blush

Exactly one year ago Stila produced a beautiful blush with hearts  on it. I could not resist. I love anything with hearts on it therefore I fell for it even though the color really was too dark for me.

Stila Make Me Blush from 2011

This year Stila apologized to me by bringing out a new blush with hearts in softer pinks; just for me!! They obviously knew that I couldn’t easily wear the first one and just bought it to admire it so they apparently wanted to appease me and make me buy more. Thank you Stila for thinking so highly of me!

Here it is!!

Stila Love at First Blush

You can buy this alone for $14 or buy the Love at First Blush Set($20 at sephora.com). “Embossed with hearts in three ultra-wearable shades of pink, this microfine powder has a velvety smooth finish and subtle shimmer for a natural looking blush. A duo of deluxe-size Lip Glaze shades add high shine and understated color to complete your look.”

Love at First Blush set 2012 from sephora.com

 

I couldn’t resist the bargain of the set to get 2 glosses for only an extra $6. The colors are Bubble Gum and Pinkle Twinkle. (These glosses will end up in a Beauty Info Zone contest soon.)

Love at First Blush set

It was the blush I craved. The blush consists of three shades. Towards the top is a pink/lilac shimmer, middle is a matte warm toned pink while the bottom is a darker more rosy shimmer.

Love at First Blush

I personally start my brush in the middle and then lightly sweep it over the two shimmer shades. I don’t normally pick shimmers for my blush so I’m careful not to overdo the top and bottom. When blended together these three shades give me a very natural pink cheek.

Stila Love at First Blush swatched

I’ve already put in my order with Stila for the 2013 version. They know that the Marcia Museum of Hearts needs to be added to each and every year. — Marcia

Minis with a major impact

I love getting gift with purchase mascaras especially when it’s a new mascara on the market or one I’ve never tried before. For the most part I find that the mascaras are identical to the full size ones. I also find that they usually last at least a month and sometimes longer. I’ve even bought this size on ebay if I’ve found a mascara I like a lot.

I know that mascara is one of those items that’s different for all people. What I may love you may hate but I might be able to help you a little with my experiences. Here’s some impressions of gwp sizes that I’ve recently tried.

First up is Lancome Hypnose Drama. I was excited with this the first few times I used this. Then I realized that even though the initial look was terrific I was soon dealing with smudges and flaking. As you can see by the brush the bristles are different sizes which probably is what helps the mascara give both volume and length. The wand is an S shape which helps grab all your lashes. It does give a dramatic look so the name is appropriate but the inconsistency of the mascara makes me not want to purchase a full size one.  From Lancome: “Lancome’s luxurious new texturizing complex features highly saturated waxes and intense black pigments for maximum lash volume.” The full size retails for $25 but won’t be in my shopping cart.

An old stand-by for me is Estee Lauder MagnaScopic. I don’t often use EL products but I really like this particular mascara. Even when my lashes were shorter it came through for me. I never have smudging with this mascara. With shorter lashes I noticed that it was mostly definition that I saw but it held the curl well too. With lusher lashes I notice more volume which is what it’s advertised to be (maximum volume mascara).  The brush on MagnaScopic is a full traditional one like the ones I used for years. This costs $21 and I have bought it in full size in the past as well as used many gwp ones. It’s not necessarily an exciting mascara but it comes through in a pinch and that’s why I like it.

Another Estee Lauder one I’ve tried is More than Mascara and that was a thumbs down for me. I don’t have it to compare now but when I got this sample it smudged terribly on me, didn’t enhance my lashes and ended up getting tossed within days. (Also $21.)

Chanel Inimitable is a mascara that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with. The first time I bought it I hated it. I let it “age” for about a month and found that I liked it so much better after that. It became a staple for me but I needed to always make it age. With the gwp version I didn’t have to let it age but I did find that the tubes didn’t last a long time before I felt it was too dry to continue using. My results with Inimitable are mostly length and great definition without any smudging at all. Not everyone is crazy about a plastic brush like this but Inimitable has inimitably worked great for me. At $30 for the full size I’m happy that I have a few minis in my collection.

Stila GlamourEyes is the newest one I tried ($22 for full size). I received it in a Birchbox and was quite eager to try it out. At first it was a total bust. I put it on and it looked great but within a very short time the curl was totally gone and there was nothing special about the mascara anymore. I decided it was aging time and let it sit for about a week. I tried again and it was a no go. I didn’t have smudging but I had wilting. Now though I’m using it successfully since it needed time to cure (just like a fine wine). Stila states that “a single stroke instantly lengthens, volumizes and curls for long, luscious lashes.” I can’t say this curls my lashes since I already said it wilted them but it does do a nice job of lengthening and volumizing plus I’m not finding I have raccoon eyes with this. The sample size I received was quite fresh so it’s lasting me a long time without drying out. I like the full brush and would consider purchasing this.

Last but not least is Dior Extase which I’ve reviewed previously. This is one of my very favorite mascaras and the smaller size one doesn’t disappoint me at all. Even the mini has the same “tiered” brush that makes the mascara special to me. Extase has fibers in it that help with volume and length. A full size is $28 so when a nice MA gave me a mini when I was shopping I was thrilled. Extase does it all for me: length, volume, curl and no smudging or flaking.

Even though these gwp sizes didn’t necessarily cost me money, they can cost since companies haven’t been as generous with their gifts with purchase as they used to be. Your best bet to get these is either when a mascara is newly launched like the Stila one or during a brand’s GWP Event. Lancome seems to be one of the most generous brands with mini mascaras in their gifts with purchase and so is Clinique which I didn’t mention since so far I haven’t found a Clinique mascara I really like.

Have you gotten a mini mascara that you’ve really enjoyed? — Marcia